The Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for millions of federal workers seems to be working, with no apparent disruption to law enforcement, intelligence-gathering or holiday travel.
One day after the deadline for compliance, 92% of the 3.5 million federal workers covered by Biden’s mandate on Tuesday reported to the government that they were at least partially vaccinated, according to White House officials.
In total, 96.5% of employees have been deemed in compliance with the policy, including through medical or religious exemptions that are still being evaluated.
The rest are considered out of compliance, but officials emphasized that “it’s not a cliff” and that workers will receive counseling to get vaccinated or file for an exemption. Only then would termination be considered.
“We know vaccine requirements work,” said the White House assistant press secretary Kevin Munoz. “We hope that our implementation sends the clear message to businesses to move forward with similar measures that will protect their workforce, protect their customers and protect our communities.”
Since instituting mandates, the White House has believed the federal government could serve as a model for the nation.
The numbers from the Internal Revenue Service show how a mandate can drive up the vaccination rate. About 25% of the agency’s workforce first got a shot after Biden announced the mandate in September; now, 98% are in compliance.
Agencies with marginally lower vaccination rates tend to have widely dispersed workforces.
Several intelligence agencies apparently had at least 20% of their workforce unvaccinated as of late October, said Republican Representative Chris Stewart of Utah, a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Larry Cosme, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, said about the same time that there are about 31,000 members from 65 federal law enforcement agencies in the association and he estimated 60% of them have been vaccinated.
A federal corrections officers union in Florida sued over the mandate, saying it was a violation of civil rights.
The federal vaccination rate outpaces the rate of vaccination for all Americans. About 82.2% of American adults, or more than 212 million people, have received at least one dose.